Monpanshi

Monpanshi

Here at Khushi Feet, we love it when people show their support for our cause and get enthused to do something to help us raise money to improve the lives of street children in Kolkata.

Recently, we have been completely blown away by the fundraising efforts of some of our supporters in the USA.

In New Jersey on Saturday 6th May, the ‘Monpanshi’ concert was held. The event, organised by Shrabani Nandi, was described as a “small humble effort to be the change we wish to see in the world”. That “small, humble effort” raised an astonishing $6,500 (with more donations still to come). That’s over £4,800 for Khushi Feet! Which is over 410,000 Indian rupees for the street schools in Kolkata!

“I am so happy. I never thought we could raise this much,” says Shrabani. “That day was full of events in New Jersey, but still people showed their love and support. We had a very successful event.” Shrabani has a message to all those who attended the event and made generous donations: “I am really overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from you all. I don’t know where I’d be without it. You guys have lifted me up. Thank you. Love to you all.”

The vibrant and exciting Indian-inspired event included dance performances from RDM (Rhythms of Dance & Music) students (directed by Mitra Purkayastha) and musical performances from Aakash Deep (a signed vocalist of Time Music India). Aakash extends his thanks to Shrabani for pulling the concert together. “A very special thanks to Ms Shrabani Nandi for managing and executing the event so wonderfully. And of course from Mitra and the RDM students who added many colours to the palette of ‘Monpanshi’. Thank you once again. Your support truly helped the cause!”

And this isn’t the first event these guys have organised to support Khushi Feet. In 2015, Aakash Deep’s ‘Antorer Antoraley’ concert raised $3602 for Khushi Feet and personally went out to visit the GNCEM street schools in Kolkata to hand over the cheque.

Once again, we are incredibly overwhelmed by the fundraising of Shrabani and her team. When we expressed our gratitude to her, her response was this: “I am really happy and honoured to be a part of your great cause. Honestly, you inspire me to be a better person. I literally got inspired by Khushi Feet’s work.”

Well, things have come full circle now, and Shrabani is inspiring us! If she’s inspired you to do something to raise some money for Khushi Feet, please get in touch. However big or small, simple or off-the-wall your fundraising idea is, go for it! Being part of Khushi Feet and doing something which will help change the lives of some of the poorest children in the world is incredibly rewarding and actually, it’s great fun too! We can guarantee it’ll make you feel ‘khushi’.

Khushi Concert in the USA – ‘The Musical Paperboat’

Khushi Concert in the USA – ‘The Musical Paperboat’

Last year, New York-based Indian musician Aakash Deep got in touch with us here at Khushi Feet and said that he shared our passion for wanting to help street children in Kolkata, India. He took action decided to put on a fundraising concert to raise money for Khushi Feet. The concert (which was called ‘ANTORER ANTORALEY’) was a huge success and raised $3602 (over £2000) for Khushi Feet to send out to the street schools we support in Kolkata.

Aakash even went out to visit Subir Roy (the founder of the GNCEM street schools) in Kolkata to give him the funds in person. In response to this visit, Aakash said: “I don’t know how to express my joy after seeing the work GNCEM are doing to support these children and helping society on Kolkata.”

This year, our amazing friends over in the States are putting on another concert to raise even more money for us to send out to help Kolkata’s street children and their schools. The concert, presented by Aakash Deep and Alo, is called ‘MONPANSHI’(মনপানসি) – ‘The Musical Paperboat’. The event will include musical performances from Aakash Deep (a signed vocalist of ‘Times Music India’), and dance performances from RDM (Rhythms of Dance & Music) students directed by Mitra Purkayastha. Aakash Deep and Alo describe the concert as a “small humble effort to be the change we wish to see in the world”.

Shrabani Nandi is organsing the event. She says, “It is a great philanthropic cause. We can help a street child’s education and enhance the quality of life of these kids. It’s one small step for us, but one great step for humanity.”

The ‘MONPANSHI’ concert will be taking place on Saturday 6 May 2017, from 5pm, at North Brunswick High School (98 Raider Rd, North Brunswick Township, New Jersey 08902). Tickets cost $15. For tickets, call (917) 683 7576.

You can also visit the event’s Facebook page.

It promises to be a great concert, so if you are local to the area, make sure you don’t miss out. Buy your tickets today! All proceeds go towards the education of street children in Kolkata.

Glastonbury 2017

Glastonbury 2017

WE’RE GOING TO GLASTONBURY!

Yes, that’s right… Khushi is going to be heading down to this year’s Glastonbury Festival for some seriously muddy Khushi Feet fundraising and Khushi Hands trading!

Khushi Hands has been offered a trading stall. We are looking forward to selling our hand-crafted recycled-sari artisan products to the 175,000+ people attending the festival.

Khushi Feet, meanwhile, is providing a team of volunteers to do the litter picking on site in exchange for donations to the charity.

Glastonbury is the largest festival in the world, showcasing some of the most famous artists on the planet. Khushi is only a small organisation but we are always striving to make our fundraising and awareness raising as big and exciting as possible. So we are thrilled to have the amazing opportunity to attend Glastonbury Festival 2017 – 21st-25th June at Worthy Farm.

Khushi Christmas

Khushi Christmas

Come and celebrate Christmas with Khushi Feet at our festive family-friendly Coffee Morning! It will be held at Faversham Baptist Church on Saturday 10th December from 10am until 12:30pm. There will plenty of fun to be had for people of all ages, including . .

– Khushi the Cow’s Grotto
– Game & Activities for Children
– Bric-a-Brac Bargains
– Tea, Coffee, Hot Chocolate and Sweet & Savoury Treats
– Sponsor a Street Child

PLUS! The Launch of Khushi Hands – a Community Interest Company which sells artisan Indian recycled-sari products (cards, bags, purses etc) handcrafted by underprivileged women living in Kolkata. Grab yourself a beautiful and ethical Christmas gift.

See you there!

Day Fourteen – Indian Museum & Packing for Home

Day Fourteen – Indian Museum & Packing for Home

By Stefano

Today is our last day in Kolkata, this has resulted in us not doing all that much and stirring up many mixed thoughts and emotions.

All just about fit and healthy, if not very tired, we went for coffee at about mid morning in a café called 8th Day, which supports women trapped in Kolkata’s sex trade. It was a strangely western café for a side street of Kolkata but all the same very nice. Then we came back to where we have been staying and did some packing. After lunch we went off to The Indian Museum, a rather strange museum in that one of the exhibits was was made out of plywood and yet claimed to be the Rosetta Stone. It also included some dead animals which had a sign to tell us that they were “some animals that lived a long time ago” – very helpful! Even more helpful was when they stopped the translation of the information in the middle of a sentence because they couldn’t fit it in – we found these quirks very entertaining!

Then we went straight to Fire and Ice – an Italian restaurant – for a last team meal which wasn’t curried!

All in all an incredible two weeks and a very nice final day.

EPILOGUE: As the team is flying home tomorrow, this will be the last daily blog post, so thanks for reading and following our trip to Kolkata. It’s been amazing and challenging; heartbreaking and joyful all at the same time. As we said at the beginning, this trip has been a life changing experience for the team members which has moulded them into young people who are eager to make a difference in our world.

Day Thirteen – Mother House & Salt Lake Slum

Day Thirteen – Mother House & Salt Lake Slum

By Hannah

Mother Teresa worked with the poorest of the poor, of which there are many in Kolkata. The place where she lived, worked and died is only minutes from where we are staying and that’s where we headed first. The room she lived in was very humble with only basic furniture such as a bed and desk. But the whole place was filled with a sense of peace and calm. Inside the house it says that Mother Teresa’s life and service were based on the gospel passage ‘Truly I Say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it for me’ Matthew 25v40.

After this we visited the Salt Lake Slum to see the work of the SEED Society (Save Entrust Equip Disciple). In Pastor Piyas and Sister Jayashree who are running this project I could see the attitude of Mother Teresa at work in the modern day slums of Kolkata.

The conditions in the slum were shocking and totally heart breaking to see. There is no clean or running water, no electricity and the ‘homes’ are put together out of whatever can be found lying around. However as I looked around at the work SEED are doing and saw the smiles on the faces of the children I could feel a sense of hope and purpose coming from the people living there.

SEED have managed to get the older children into Indian schools and have set up a school teaching the younger ones while the parents are at work. The children did a performance for us involving some very impressive Indian dancing while we tried not to die of the heat! For the first time in India it was actually hotter inside than out (no air conditioning). Then we did a story and some songs with them including ‘Allelu’ which seems to be a favourite.

We also saw the fantastic projects that SEED are doing with the women. The women come twice a week to do a course in tailoring, hairdressing or beautification. They are also taught to read and write. We heard the story of one woman, who after completing the beautification course has opened her own mobile shop allowing her to support herself and her family. Another woman said how proud she was of now being able to read and write as it gave her a feeling of dignity. A skill we don’t even think about allowed her to sign her name at the bank and stop being cheated by people taking advantage. These women also said that after praying for their husbands they have noticed a remarkable difference in their behaviour for the better. Later in the day we saw the beauty salon that three of the women from the slums run after completing the beautification course.

SEED have also given solar lamps to the slum so that the school aged children are able to study. Before this the children would go out onto the streets in the evenings and find a street lamp to sit under so they could do their homework. That’s how keen to learn they are!

“The greatest poverty is being unloved, unwanted and uncared for” ~ Mother Teresa

“Today the poor of the world are looking up at you, do you look at them with compassion? Do you have compassion for the poor who are hungry? They are hungry not only for bread and rice, they are hungry to be recognised as human” ~ Mother Teresa

It would be easy to look around at the poverty in Kolkata and think ‘the problem is too extensive there’s nothing I could possibly do to help’ but I am reminded of a quote of Mother Teresa ‘I alone can’t change the world but I can cast a stone to create many ripples’.

Day Twelve – Hatibagan Mobile School (again!)

Day Twelve – Hatibagan Mobile School (again!)

By Emily

Kolkata has a very special place in my heart. Being back here – in the City of Joy – has been bringing back so many memories; memories of the things I saw and did which inspired me to set up Khushi Feet back in 2012. 

Back in the UK, when Khushi Feet is fundraising for the street schools here in Kolkata, we’re not seeing first-hand how much of a difference our money is making. Fundraising is hard work and often, the only thing that motivates me to keep going is my memories of the street schools here. These memories remind me just how much of a lifeline these schools really are for street children.

Let me share with you a perfect example of this…

Today we were back at the Hatibagan (which means ‘Elephant Garden’) Mobile School. During play time, I was chatting with an inspiring young woman called Nasreen. Many years ago when she was a little girl, Nasreen used to live on the streets of Kolkata. I asked her to describe what this was like, but she couldn’t tell me. It was a difficult time for her as her father passed away – the memories were too painful for her to recall. She started coming to GNCEM’s mobile school at Hatibagan and very quickly realised how much of a fantastic opportunity it was for her. Before long she moved up to the Girls Hostel where she successfully completed her exams. Nasreen is now a teacher at the Hatibagan school.

Nasreen is only 20, but is very mature for her years. Living on the streets hasn’t hardened her, however in talking to her I can tell that she is an incredibly strong woman. At the same time, she has a very calm and gentle presence – she engages perfectly with her young students from the streets and can relate to them completely. She clearly still doesn’t take anything in her life for granted and she is eternally grateful to GNCEM for helping her off the streets and into employment.

The street schools which Khushi Feet supports are changing lives. Fact. After meeting Nasreen, I will be heading home on Sunday with a renewed enthusiasm for continuing to support these schools. 

I have spent the last couple of days chatting with the directors of the GNCEM schools about how we can help on the near future. There are some very exciting ideas in the pipeline, so watch this space! 

No one person can change the world or eradicate extreme poverty. But we can all do our bit and when we pull together, lives can be changed. I have seen a real-life example of this today in Nasreen. I hope you will support Khushi Feet and join us as we continue to help provide street children with an education – these beautiful kids deserve their footsteps to freedom.

Day Eleven – Pathetsesh School

Day Eleven – Pathetsesh School

By the Team (a collaborative effort)

Today we visited the school in Pathesesh – a village in a very remote area. The bus arrived promptly which was just as well as the journey was two and a half hours long! Here’s how the team have described the journey:

  • “Bumpy-wumpy, ouch!”
  • “Wow that’s a nice cow”
  • “Mega lolz but also much culturalism”
  • “Clickity-clack on the track”
  • “Honk honk!”
  • “Are we nearly there yet? I need a wee!!!”

Once we arrived, there was a mad rush for the toilet, which thankfully wasn’t a squat toilet but it did lack a door. This is because they’re in the process of building new parts of the school, which was very exciting to see. The construction work (which only started last year) is not complete, however we were told that as soon as a classroom is ready it is furnished with desks and a blackboard – these builders and decorators don’t hang about!

Pathesesh is such a lovely rural part of Kolkata. Here’s how the team have described the area:

  • “Hard to pronounce!”
  • “Luscious and green”
  • “Picture-perfect”
  • “Full of flooded rice paddies”
  • “Fresh as a daisy”

It was nice to be somewhere with fresh air away from the pressure of the city. But we weren’t there just to enjoy the countryside. We had school kids to meet…

We had a quick sing-song with the kiddies and gave them “candies” and stickers. The delight on their face was indescribable… But the team have tried to describe it even so:

  • “Lit up like fireworks”
  • “Grateful”
  • “Wonderfully polite”
  • “So so so happy and cheerful”
  • “Khushi!”

We had a delicious Byriani for lunch at the school before clambering back onto the bus for the journey home. Some of us are quite tired after today. Here’s how the team have described how they’re feeling:

  • “Exhaust-a-roony!”
  • “Pooped!”
  • “Ready for hibernation”

But don’t worry, after a chilled-out evening and a good night’s rest, we’ll be back with a bang and renewed strength ready to take on what tomorrow has in store.

Day Ten – Bhagobanpur & Gangajoara Schools

Day Ten – Bhagobanpur & Gangajoara Schools

By Luke

Today started like any other here; breakfast and then waiting outside the Guest House straining to catch the first glimpse of the yellow GNCEM bus. Unfortunately all of the buses here are yellow so it can be quite a challenge.

Bhagobanpur is on the other side of a lake from Daspara School and we could see Daspara’s yellow building as we walked along the side of the lake. Bhagobanpur has been supported by Khushi Feet; we supplied the money for their boundary wall which is brightly coloured and decorated with Khushi’s blue footprints. The wall keeps the children safe and allows the school to keep goats which were the first thing we saw upon entering. 

We are now used to the scenario of going to the main hall, being sung to and then singing to the children. Despite the fact that they probably do the same thing every time they are visited and we have done the same thing for two weeks it is still rewarding to see their faces light up. That may have been helped by the stickers and sweets we gave them. 

And then we were off, a flying visit as we were trying to get to the Gangajoara School before the children went home. Despite the best efforts of the driver we were stuck in a traffic jam in a market. The bus inched past stalls laden with colourful fruits and vegetables before finally being released back to a normal speed. Gangajour is a little more remote and accessed by a dirt track that the bus couldn’t navigate so we walked along a brick path in the mud to a school very much still under construction. 

There are only 3 classes there at the moment but the intention is to grow with every year until there are 10 classes. This time a quick song from them and us before the children had to go home in the heat. Khushi Feet has supplied the funding for the ground floor windows, doors and floor tiles here and while only a small thing, this has helped them tremendously. It’s very encouraging to see first-hand how Khushi fundraising is actually making a difference. 

Both schools are surrounded by a very pleasant amount of green fields, quite waterlogged with the monsoon but a visual break from the greys and dirt of the city. There are many more cows out in the rural areas and one even waded across to us, to the accompaniment of the humming of the Jaws theme.

Back on the bus again and off. Subir and Eunok (founders of GNCEM) kindly treated us to Chinese for lunch at a nearby mall food court, much less grand than the mall we had seen last week but still a world away from the streets it is surrounded by. One more bus journey back to the guest house for a much needed rest. 

Things I have learned today: Do not sit on the wheel arch of an Indian bus; bumps in the road lift you out of your seat and painfully back down. Napping on a bus isn’t advisable either. Also the lovely green fields hide cobras, picnic at your peril!

Day Nine: Gobindopur Girls Hostel & Chandpur Boys Hostel

Day Nine: Gobindopur Girls Hostel & Chandpur Boys Hostel

By Daryl

Happy Independence Day!!!!! Yes, today is the day we celebrate the 70th anniversary of India’s break from British rule, and no, we weren’t stoned in the streets. Instead we were received with the same incredible welcome that we have been greeted with every day of our visit. The realisation is gradually building that more than colours, smells and noise, India is about love, joy and hospitality.

We started the day with the hoisting of the flag (an incredibly attractive flag if you’re into vexillology) which, as per, ran on IST (India Stretch Time). But never the less made me well up inside like the soppy so and so I am.

The main segment of the day consisted of visiting GNCEM’s Gobindopur girls hostel and Chandpur boys hostel; yet another great example of the great work GNCEM have done… Did I say it was great? 

We sang, they danced, we acted, they ran round like there’s no tomorrow, and we celebrated together. There was even the very competitive event of the India vs England Olympics (we lost).

One thing that struck me like a hot iron was that these kids (who started out at the mobile street schools) have so much passion and dedication in anything they turn their hand to. These kids have come from having virtually nothing, and through the ceaseless hard work put in by Subir and Eunok Roy and everyone who works with them, they have come through the GNCEM system and now have a safe bed every night and three meals a day: Fantastico! GNCEM rely on sponsors to provide this for each child – a practical way we can help, perhaps?

Also, it is important to remember; not every child living on the streets of Kolkata is as fortunate.

The team is doing better than ever and, dispite some inevitable gastrointestinal hicups we are there for each other. 

I am so glad to see the work of good people like the staff at the hostels, I feel like a glass being filled with the water of inspiration… Good things shall surely come from this trip.

As the sun goes down on the city and the flags continue to flutter in the light winds, I remain in contemplation of the stupendous events my eyes have seen today; the epitome of selflessness… We can all learn from this… There’s still time.

Oh… and one more thing… just to be on the safe side, let’s not colonise anywhere ever again.